You know you are a true library nerd when you’re sitting in London requesting library books from your parents’ library in Las Vegas.
But obviously I need to have Christmas picture books ready to read to my girls for December when we arrive back in the States.
Like last year, this list is a compilation of dozens of other lists, trips to the bookstore to check out displays, reading hundreds of Amazon reviews, and suggestions from other book-lovers. Since I know I’ll end up reading most of these books dozens of times over the course of December, I don’t want a single dud in the mix.
There are a few Christmas picture books on this list from last year’s list mixed in with plenty of new titles and, like last year, it’s a mix of secular and religious, new and old, funny and sweet. I hope you love them all!
christmas book countdown
Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda.
After we read Here Comes the Easter Cat, it was an instant favorite in our house and I was so delighted to see a Christmas version this year. Don’t be surprised if this is your child’s favorite.
A Creature was Stirring by Clement Clark Moore, illustrated by Carter Goodrich.
There are ten million spins on “The Night Before Christmas” but this one, which combines the original poem with a little boy who sneaks out of bed, is my all-time favorite.
Listen to the Silent Night by Dandi Daley Mackell, illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson.
On the night Jesus was born, it wasn’t so silent after all, with cows mooing, angel wings beating, and the flap of sandals through the streets.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.
This wordless story features a little boy who builds a snowman and then, that night, discovers it has come to life.
When It Snows by Richard Collingridge.
This beautiful story about a boy’s adventures with his teddy bear through a snowstorm is perfect for Christmas and book lovers of all ages.
A Very Fuddles Christmas by Frans Fischer.
Fuddles the cat is delighted when he discovers that his family has set out a giant feast just for him, plus a stack of presents under the best gift he could imagine – a giant climbing tree. His delight is short-lived, though, when he’s unceremoniously whisked out the door.
Christmas Eve at the Mellops’ by Tomi Ungerer.
Four little pig brothers all get a tree for the family’s celebrations, but the parents have already procured one. The pigs go from place to place, but NO one seems to need a Christmas tree. I love the old-timey illustrations in this one.
My Pen Pal, Santa by Melissa Stanton, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell.
A year worth of letters between Santa and a little girl, this one was among the most memorable of last year’s crop of Christmas books.
An Otis Christmas by Loren Long.
If you have a little vehicle lover, here’s the Christmas book for you.
A Christmas Tree for Pyn Olivier Dunrea.
Pyn desperately wants a Christmas tree, but her gruff father isn’t interested. Eventually, though, Pyn’s sweet determination softens his heart.
Lighthouse Christmas by Tony Buzzeo.
Frances isn’t sure she wants to stay at the lighthouse for Christmas, tempted instead to go spend it with extended family on the mainland. After all, how will Santa find them? But is she willing to leave her father alone at the lighthouse for the holidays?
The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlburg, illustrated by Janet Ahlburg.
If, like my children, your child loves the original Jolly Postman book, this is the perfect surprise to pull out for the holidays. Who needs to wait until Christmas morning to open something up?
The Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis.
This one may be tricky to find a copy of at your library or bookstore (I discovered it at the Waterstones here, although you can order a copy of it from Amazon for about $10), but it’s so good I can’t not include it. Twin sisters Charlie and Sam look alike, but act very differently. Differently enough that everyone is worried Charlie won’t actually get any presents when Santa makes his rounds.
Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman.
A little mouse is on the hunt for a new home (this is ringing true to me right now as we look for a place to live in Durham) and thinks the nativity manger looks just right. But then he hears the Christmas story and realizes who belongs in the little creche.
The Money We’ll Save by Brock Cole.
When Pa brings a turkey home to fatten for Christmas dinner, he is convinced it will not only feed the family for Christmas but also eat table scraps up until then. What could possibly go wrong in a tiny 19th-century New York City tenement? (Hint: everything).
Just Right for Christmas by Birdie Black, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw.
In the same spirit as Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, a king procures some red cloth to make a gift for his daughter, and the leftovers go to good use for someone else (and someone else and someone else), until the tiniest bit becomes a scarf for a mouse in the kingdom.
Dear Santasaurus by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Jef Kaminsky.
In seventeen letters to Santa, Ernest B. Spinosaurus goes into great detail about how good he’s been all year (so there may have been a few mishaps. . . ) and also is quite specific about exactly what he’d like on Christmas morning.
The Smallest Gift of Christmas by Peter Reynolds.
Roland is less than impressed with his Christmas morning gift, lamenting that it’s not bigger. He wishes for bigger and bigger presents that result in some surprising adventures (and the happy realization that maybe a small gift isn’t the worst thing in the world).
Little Santa by Jon Agee.
I happened on a copy of this one mid-way through the year and remembered again how much I liked it. What a fun version of Santa’s backstory.
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft.
This was Ella’s other favorite last year, and it’s so sweet, about the Kind Ox in the stable’s inn who makes room for one animal after another, until Mary and Joseph appear, hoping for a little room for them and their expected baby.
How Many Sleeps ’til Christmas? by Mark Sperring, illustrated by Sebastian Braun.
This little bear is like every child in the days leading up to Christmas. But on Christmas morning, it’s Papa Bear who can’t sleep another moment!
Peter Spier’s Christmas! by Peter Spier.
Every time I read a new Peter Spier book, I instantly decide that it’s my favorite. This wordless story of a family getting ready for Christmas, celebrating, and then enjoying putting everything away afterward is just so sweet and fun. Plus, my girls will look at the details of every picture for ages.
A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck, illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright.
This is a perfect Christmas bedtime book, as the book bids goodnight to all the members of the nativity story.
I Spy Christmas by Jean Marzollo.
Ella discovered I Spy books this summer at my parents’ house (they have tons of them) and we spent hours looking through them. I think the Christmas version is perfect for those last days before Christmas when the days seem so endless and children are bouncing off the walls.
And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!